‘Good Times’ Showrunner Ranada Shepard Explains the New Series Racy Themes and How It’s Still Steeped in Tradition 

Showrunner Ranada Shepard had one goal when shaping Netflix’s new animation series, Good Times. As one of the only Afro-Latina showrunners in the adult animation space, she wanted to bring an authentic voice to the project. “It was an honor to be trusted with the reimagining of Good Times,” Shepard tells EBONY.  

Executive producers Norman Lear, the creator of the original Good Times, Seth MacFarlane of Family Guy fame and athlete/multihyphenate Stephen Curry brought the initial concept to Shepherd. “There was a version of the reimagining that preceded me, so my first mission was to speak with Norman Lear and the other producers to understand what they were hoping to see. Once I understood the goal, I approached the storytelling in a similar way to the original series,” she says.

Ranada Shepard. Image: Kevin Scanlon.
Ranada Shepard. Image: Kevin Scanlon.

That includes traditional heartfelt storytelling, leaning into comedy and tapping into contemporary social commentary. It’s “to give our audience a new way of seeing common issues that impact our communities,” she explains. 

But Shepherd wants to make it clear that this is indeed an adult animated show, which explains some of the series’ racier storylines and themes.  

“When I was asked to take over the reimagination, a lot of pieces were already in place … It was already sold as adult animation before I joined. Adult animation is a space in Hollywood mainly dominated by White males, so I was excited to take on the challenge.” Shephard explains that the genre is often defined by hard jokes and uncomfortable subject matter that can push the boundaries.  

“I knew that was so far from the sitcom format of the original series, so the biggest challenge was finding the balance, where there’s a familiarity from the original series yet a newness with the stories and jokes that are relevant today.” 

She also understood the scrutiny of being a woman in such a high-profile space. “To be showrunning a comedy of this magnitude and also to take on such a special piece of television history comes with a lot of pressure,” she says. However, “when Sony called, I was confident I could do the job. I stayed laser-focused and trusted my team. I could sense that the stories were landing and the scripts were good; it was like the entire team suddenly started to relax. I’m extremely proud of that moment.” 

She got to sit down with Lear, who has a cameo voice-over in the series, recorded before his passing in December 2023. “It was such a surreal moment to watch him in the booth, 100-year-old Norman Lear, a whole centenarian, as he recorded his lines. I was literally watching him and pinching myself, thinking the television legend is saying my words.” 

Shepard was raised in Chicago in a household that valued hard work, grit and rising to meet a challenge, which creates a beautiful intersection between the Evans family’s aspirations for a better life and Shepard’s own success. 

“It feels like a dream come true,” Shepard gushes. Little Ranada, who was raised on the South Side and grew up watching the original series, is living out her dream.”  

Shepard hopes that everyone who tunes in can walk away with this mindset. “No matter what, we are always better than our circumstances. There’s not a situation you can put our people in where we won’t rise above it, master it and look amazing while doing it,” she declares. “The reimagination of the Evans family is that reminder.” 

Good Times, all 10 episodes, are now airing on Netflix. 


Updated: April 15, 2024 — 9:02 am